Here’s a confession: I shed a tear yesterday when I heard Australian captain Michael Clarke speak so movingly about the role that Phil Hughes had in motivating Australia to win the World Cup. Here’s another confession: Hughes death on the cricket field in December last year affected me too. I had left IBN 18 , a network I had helped set up in July last year, and had been struggling to come to terms with having to break away from what I considered my third child. It had been the most difficult moment of my professional life and I just wasn’t able to emotionally handle the fallout of what at the time was a pure conscience call. And then the bizarre Hughes incident happened and it made me realise the futility of my angst over having to lose the comfort zone of a news channel. A cricketer playing something he loved so dearly had been felled on a cricket ground, what could be more poignant and devastating. My misery seemed to pale into insignificance. That week I also travelled to Kashmir and met some of the flood affected families. To watch young children having to live without a roof over their head in the Kashmiri winter was another wake up call: there are many in this world much less fortunate who need urgent help. And here I was moaning over my fate.
There is another reason why I think Clarke’s speech yesterday was quite special. World Cup winning speeches can go horribly wrong. I was at Melbourne 23 years ago when Imran Khan lifted the trophy and gave a speech which was more about him and his plans to build a cancer hospital and less about his team. It was an egotistical display that left one wondering if the captain had forgotten that cricket is the ultimate team sport. Years later, Imran admitted to me that he had got it wrong. In a sense, Clarke made up for it yesterday when he invoked the memory of Hughes and spoke of how his death had made him in spirit the 16th member of the Aussie squad.
Post-script: the World Cup ceremony was near perfect except I wondered whether N Srinivasan was the right man to give away the trophy. The Supreme Court has cast a cloud over his duties as a cricket administrator and yet there he was soaking in cricket’s biggest moment. I have nothing personal against Srinivasan, and I know he has done some good too for Indian cricket. But was it appropriate for him to give away the trophy simply because he is the ICC chairperson and protocol necessitates it? Am just wondering: wouldn’t it have been better if Sachin Tendulkar, also on the podium, had given away the trophy? Or better still, if Hughes family had been called to give away the prize? I guess I am a dreamer, but as the old song goes, I am not the only one!